You Can’t Catch All Flies With Honey …

JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

20 August 2020

There is an old adage that says, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” This statement implies you’ll get more from a person by being sweet (like honey) as opposed to spewing vitriol (like vinegar.) Some folks might read the adage and agree wholeheartedly. Other folks may read it and tell you all the reasons why it’s wrong. Their arguments could be along the lines of, “Some people need to be spoken down to in order to listen”. It could be, “Some people need to be put in their place.” Or it could be, “Some people will take advantage of you if you’re too nice.”

I suppose a lot of the naysayers’ views come from the ways in which they’re accustomed to being spoken to. If they aren’t used to being treated kindly, kindness can come off as deceit or weakness.


There’s no better way to learn about a developing human than to become a parent. You can try different ways of parenting and see how your offspring respond. For instance, my potty-trained son was regressing. At first, I was frustrated about cleaning up his accidents and stressed about the regression. Then I got smart. Instead of letting him sense my frustration, I’d ask him to go potty more frequently during the day. For each successful visit to the potty, he got an M&M. On the second day of this experiment, we were down to fewer accidents and a less stressed mom and son. In this case, the sweetness was more successful than the vitriol. Since we’re talking about a child who’s used to a low stress environment – and not much sugar – the sweetness worked out great.

Acid is as Acid Does

But what if you’re dealing with people who are full of bitterness? No matter how much sweetness you spew, they’ll continue to spew more vinegary vitriol. If you add more vinegar to the mix, you won’t decrease the acidity of the situation. The only way to diffuse it is to find some products high in their ability to neutralize the acid. One look at the PH chart provides me with a few ideas. You can start with sprinkling some baking soda. If that doesn’t work you may need to head for something with a higher PH such as soapy water, bleach, or drain cleaner. You’ve got to maintain your composure and clean the acidic residue off after an encounter with such people.

Honey and sweetness won’t work with certain people, but it doesn’t mean the only other option is vinegar. Sometimes the best solution is to neutralize the vitriol and pour the rejected honey into a nice warm cup of tea – or maybe even a Lavender Bee’s Knees Cocktail.